Benzworld GOP Kook Squad get ready: shocker coming in the Senate
The walls, come tumbling down:
Biden Says Only 20 Votes in Senate for Bush Plan
By BRIAN KNOWLTON
Published: January 28, 2007
The New York Times
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 — Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, predicted today that no more than 20 senators would voice support for the president’s troop increase in Iraq when the Senate debates resolutions opposing that plan.
Mr. Biden and other Democrats also angrily contested the Bush administration’s suggestion that their criticism of the war was emboldening the nation’s enemies.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Biden’s prediction will come true once the debate begins this week or next. The senator emphasized that a full debate by the Senate over President Bush’s troop increase was more important than the actual vote totals that the various resolutions get.
Republican leaders are working hard to limit defections, and competing resolutions may dilute support for a resolution backed by Mr. Biden that finds a troop increase would not be “in the national interest.”
Mr. Biden’s remarks today provided an early gauge of Democrats’ confidence that doubts about the war reach well across the aisle.
Last week, Mr. Biden’s committee approved a nonbinding resolution critical of the troop increase by a 12-to-9 vote. Other resolutions, in less critical language, are also expected to be voted on.
“This president has no credibility,” Mr. Biden said on “This Week” on ABC.
“I will make you a bet,” he said to his interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, “you will not find 20 percent of the Senate standing up and saying the president is headed in the right direction.”
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said he would do his best to maintain support for the president’s plan to increase troop strength by 21,500.
Mr. McConnell said that he doubted that any resolution would gain 60 votes. That could be crucial in a few months, when the Bush administration submits a supplemental budget request for billions of dollars to pay for expanded military operations. Democrats have held out the possibility of curtailing money. Sixty votes are normally required to prevent a filibuster.
The Democrats now control the Senate by a 51-to-49 margin, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who calls himself an independent Democrat but who has supported the president on Iraq. Mr. Lieberman said today on “Fox News Sunday” that the Bush plan was “the best hope we have.”
As many as nine Republican senators have expressed their doubts about the president’s plan. There is deep skepticism among many Republicans in the House of Representatives as well.
But Mr. McConnell, arguing that even backers of Mr. Bush’s plan understand that support for Iraq cannot be unconditional or open-ended, said it was the “last chance” for the government in Baghdad to show its will to succeed.
He advocated benchmarks for it to show progress, but was vague on the details. “I don’t think you want to put a timetable on it,” McConnell said on “Face the Nation” on CBS.
Some lawmakers pleaded on the Sunday morning news programs for greater national unity on Iraq, but Democrats said the Bush administration was not helping that cause — particularly when officials like Vice President Dick Cheney or Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggest that those backing the resolutions were emboldening enemies of the United States.
“I found very dangerous the statements by the secretary of defense; that’s the height of irresponsibility,” Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, said on CNN. “I find it very offensive.”
And Mr. Biden said that if America’s enemies were being emboldened, it was by “the failed policy of this president, going to war without a strategy.”
Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, argued that the new pressure on the Iraqi government was already producing results, as shown by some of its recent actions, and that American diplomats were also successfully enlisting diplomatic support from mainly Sunni neighbors of Iraq, like Saudi Arabia.
He also asserted that Mr. Bush himself was showing new sensitivity to Congressional sentiment. One sign of that, Lugar said, was a rare and unexpected early-morning phone call he received from the president on Friday to discuss Iraq and energy policy.
To proceed now with resolutions critical of the president, Mr. Lugar said, could be harmful “around the world as well as in our body politic.”
“We really need, at this point, to get on the same page,” he said on “This Week.”
Mr. Biden tried to flip Mr. Lugar’s assertion, crediting the debate in Washington for helping change behavior in Baghdad and in the White House.
“Maybe the president wouldn’t be calling Senator Lugar at five minutes to 8 were this resolution not out there,” Mr. Biden said. “I respectfully suggest the ground has moved beneath the president’s feet.”
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address